DD/MM/YYYY: Black Circle

[12 November 2009]

By Saxon Baird

No, DD/MM/YYYY isn’t as horrible as their name. In fact, the five-piece from Toronto, Canada, isn’t horrible at all. Most of DD/MM/YYYY’s recent full-length, Black Circle, is full of youthful art-kid energy and comes off like nerdy-math rockers turned disciples of Les Savy Fav—which is a good thing, for the most part.

Lets start at the beginning, where things go right. The first song, “Bronzage”, begins with a rush as drums spit like a clogging AK-47 and a high-end guitar strums feverishly along before what seems like the entire band start howling along. Despite sounding similar to the revived dance-punk of recent years, “Bronzage” is full of fun lo-fi energy and jagged transitions.  The following track, “No Life”, picks up with the pounding of an organ over more screams, as though “Bronzage” hasn’t even really ended. These first six minutes of Black Circle roll along with intensity like a bullet-train on a tight schedule. However, track three “They” slows the ride down, and it’s a shame. An ambient garage piece thrown in purely for transitional purposes, “They” marks the point that Black Circle loses some steam.

Following this misstep is “Infinity Skull Cube”, which is an awkward mid-tempo track that comes off less like edgy art-punks with a chip on their shoulder, and more like another tired, throwaway, third-wave dance-punk single. Too earnest in its attempts, “Infinity Skull Cube” is carried by a heavy keyboard line underlining staggered vocals and a jerky bass line that never really amount to the intensity that it wants to showcase. From there, we slog along at a drunken pace through some lifeless moments. “Birdtown” is a mostly instrumental track featuring the use of some pretty lackluster horn action for the sake of using horns. “Lismer” is an unexciting noise track just to remind us that the members of DD/MM/YYYY know how to create feedback. (Great guys, thanks for the reminder.)

It isn’t until the second-half of the record that things really start to pick up again. “Real Eyes” is full of feverish drums and guitars over the ramblings of a synthesizer that, by song’s end, sounds like the loud and anxious moments found on Antioch Arrow’s final “Goth-punk” release Gems of Masochism. Things only continue to get strange and fittingly Holloween-esque from there. “Digital Haircut” starts and stops with an off-kilter drumbeat accompanied by quick, back-and-forth vocals before the entire song erupts into a fuzzed-out wave of reverb and synth to relieve all the tension. The final track, “Van Tan”—acting essentially as an extension of the previous track—works itself into a dark, jaggedly alarming whirl of energetic friction that ends the album as abruptly as if the previously mentioned train smashed into a wall. Impressive moments like these on Black Circle are as much fun as they are frighteningly harsh. It’s too bad the whole album couldn’t have been like this.

The best move from here for DD/MM/YYY would be to hone their strengths and cut the fat a bit. Black Circle is book-ended by potent moments of promising noisy post-punk that, with a little more exploration into their sound, could yield a really great release. Until then, DD/MM/YYY shows promise, but is a bit bogged down in experimentation—and at this point, too closely resembles the acts before them to really stand out amongst the masses.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/115341-ddmmyyyy-black-circle/